The Day of the African Child was yesterday celebrated in Bentol, Montserrado County, where the City Mayor, Mrs. Christine Tolbert Norman, organized the celebration to the tastes of the locals.
The ceremony was to create awareness in her constituency of the significance of the 2016 theme, “Conflict and Crisis in Africa – Protecting All Children’s Rights”- which highlights the experiences of the children of this continent over the past 40 years.
The keynote speaker, Captain Felix Walz, was a former UNPOL/UNMIL Advisor from Switzerland. The event, which is co-sponsored by the Felix Walz Bowier Trust Foundation in Switzerland, featured local artists (J-GLO, The ACE and Takun-J) who performed their latest release produced for the occasion.
About 400 children from the Isaac A. David Memorial School and surrounding communities of Bentol City were in attendance.
Mayor Tolbert-Norman said in a release that “no development can take place in the midst of conflict or crisis. Children are kept out of school, and grow up as functional illiterates. The idle mind also becomes the devil’s workshop. They need an enabling environment, free of fear and want to realize their potentials, and grow into productive citizens and leaders. Who will fix the “mess” if everyone flees the country?”
Her organization, Restoration of Educational Advancement Program (REAP), is one of the post-conflict NGOs addressing this paradigm.
The Day is celebrated on June 16 every year since 1991, when the Day of the African Child was first initiated by the then Organization of African Unity, now African Union. It honors those who participated in the Soweto Uprising in 1976 on that day. It also raises awareness of the continuing need for improvement of the education provided to African children.
On June 16, 1976, in Soweto, South Africa, thousands of black school children marched in protest against the poor quality of their education, demanding their right to be taught in their own language. Hundreds of young students were shot, and more than a hundred people were killed and more than a thousand injured in the protests during the following weeks.
For that, governments, NGOs, international organizations and other stakeholders gather together every year on June 16 to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the full realization of the rights of children in Africa.